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Botswana officials claim vegetable import ban 'here to stay'

Agriculture minister Fidelis Molao says the vegetable import ban is not only ‘here to stay’, but will possibly be expanded to include more produce in the next two years. Speaking at the 40th Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) conference here, Molao said the horticultural import ban was a necessary step to support the country’s farmers and build agricultural independence.

Since its introduction, the ban on the import of 16 vegetable varieties has resulted in local shortages and escalating prices, worsening consumers’ plight as they struggle with the impact of COVID-19 on their finances. Consumers have also complained that where local production is available, the quality is not always up to standard, while supply chain weaknesses mean unreliable availability of the key vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and potatoes.

The hospitality sector was hoping the ban would be relaxed as shortages have affected restaurants, hotels, and the broader tourism industry which was already amongst the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19. However, Molao said there was no going back on the import ban.


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